Scratch by Michael Sams

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In the grey mist betwixt sleep and wake there is a scratching sound. Is it real or is it part of my dream? Whatever that was slips away too, the tendrils of it lashing around the edges of my mind; teasing, playfully, before disintegrating entirely. Then I am left, eyes closed, feeling the weight of the night pressing down on me and all I am left with is a trinity of loss, uncertainty and confusion. I feel the sheets sticking to the sweat on my skin and in my mind’s eye I float above myself, seeing myself vulnerable and afraid. I squeeze my eyes shut as though by that force the night will swallow me whole. The idea of turning on the bedside light flashes in my forebrain and then is gone just as suddenly as it came, chased out by crippling fear. What am I afraid of… scratch, scratch, scratch… there it is again. But I’m definitely awake now and this is no longer a dream. A lightning bolt surges through me and explodes in my stomach. What was that sound? It came from down the hall. Was it Batman trying to get out or some joker trying to get in? Or worse than a joker? Something more sinister. Something far more evil. Something with an intent so twisted and demonic I could never fathom it, nor want to. I am crippled, paralyzed and I don’t want to know. I want to sleep. I want to drift away. I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be trapped. I don’t want to hear that sound again… scratch, scratch, scratch. It won’t be long now. Whatever is making that sound is making progress. It will soon achieve its goal. I hear a soft, distant, canine whimper, then rain hitting the roof, then the smell of wet dog. How could he be wet, he’s inside. Scratch, scratch, scratch. Batman will save me. It’s an irrational thought, in an irrational mind, in an irrational world, and in that context the logic seems fine. A sharp intake of breath, then the familiar grey mist again and then I remember, the vet put Batman down yesterday. I honestly didn’t mean to hit him with the car. How could I? I was reversing. I couldn’t see him.

Scratch, scratch, scratch…


Michael Sams has written short plays that have been performed and won awards internationally. His short story work is upcoming in Toasted Cheese and Spelk.